Gary Crosby speaks out about the 'other side' of Bing


SAN FRANCISCO -- Gary Crosby, whose revelations that father Bing beat him regularly with a metal-studded belt drew national headlines, thinks he learned from his father how NOT to raise a kid.

In a San Francisco stop-over to plug his 'Going My Own Way' (Doubleday), the eldest son of the famed crooner discussed what he thought he had done right in rearing his stepson, now a 27-year-old successful businessman and aspiring lawyer.


'I always gave him a chance to tell his side of the story when it appeared he had misbehaved,' said Gary Crosby. 'I sometimes punished him, but only by spanking.

'Sure, I criticized him, but I always balanced it out with about as equal amount of praise as criticism.

'I talked over any problems, even booze and drugs -- and believe me I knew about them -- and I think he listened to me.'


Gary Crosby and his three brothers were part of what was hailed in the 1940s as an ideal Hollywood family. The boys were depicted in countless articles as mischievous, fun-loving rascals -- members of the perfect family. Bing Crosby even won several 'Father of the Year' Awards.

But in his book, written with Ross Firestone, Gary Crosby revealed that his life growing up in a 20-room Hollywood 'house of terror' included silent meals at the dinner table, harsh summers in the 'salt mines' at his dad's Nevada ranch, constant goading to lose weight and regular physical beatings.

Bing's harsh discipline met with little resistance from his insecure wife, who was an alcoholic who died in 1952.

Gary Crosby, now 50, is the first to concede that the happy-go-lucky, relaxed air that Bing Crosby projected in public and in performances was as genuine as the silent, icy father Gary knew at home.

'He had two sides. Maybe we all do,' Gary Crosby said.

The four oldest Crosby sons have failed to hold regular jobs as adults. They have accumulated 11 wives, at least five drunken driving arrests, two affiliations with Alcoholics Anonymous and a paternity suit.

The young Gary Crosby first dreamed of a career as a professional athlete and then in show business. A nightclub act with his three brothers broke up in 1959 after a brawl erupted in a Montreal dressing room.


Gary Crosby turned to barroom fighting and booze, which further turned promoters against hiring him. They could never be sure he would show up to perform, or if he did, whether he would end up insulting customers and stomping off stage.

Gary Crosby now lives largely on a trust fund from his mother. The four boys will not get their share of Bing's estate until they reach age 65. But Gary Crosby has a stable home life with his second wife, actress Andrea Claudio, 31. He says he is in good shape despite recent triple bypass heart surgery.

He also attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings four times a week.

'I tried to fight the (liquor) problem alone for 19 years and ended up in the same outhouse where I started,' he said. 'I urge anyone with a problem like mine to turn to this group.'

Gary thinks that Bing got his hard-line child-rearing ideas from the singer's mother. Her husband, Gary's grandfather, he says, was a 'lovable Munchkin' and Gary adds that his uncle Bob, himself a famed musician, is the older Crosby most like his grandfather.

'But the other (older Crosby) brothers toed the mark well into their 50s when their mother was around. She was tough,' he said.


Bing and Gary had a reconciliation of sorts before the entertainer died on a golf course in October 1977 at the age of 73. It came after an interview in which Bing Crosby conceded for the first time in public that he made mistakes in rearing his boys.

Gary also thinks that Bing learned from his mistakes and did a much better job rearing his second family after he married actress Kathryn Grant and had three more children.

'He was a lot looser,' said Gary Crosby, who admits that writing the book has helped him come to terms with his harsh upbringing and famed but distant dad.

Latest Headlines